Data Democracy and Personal Data Cooperatives

By Ernst Hafen

Within 10 years most people owned a smartphone and with this the way we communicate, exchange and retrieve information and collect data has changed without any parliamentary discussions.

The re-democratization of Europe will be dependent on empowering people to control access to their own data via their smartphones.

Three features of data make them the driving force to improve democracy through data democracy.

  1. Data can be copied and DGPR empowers people to request copies of all their personal data (data portability).
  2. Data are a unique asset that is almost equally distributed among individuals (e.g. we are all millionaires in genome data).
  3. People are the maximal aggregators of their data (only we have the right to aggregate copies of our shopping, genome, activity and medical data).

Therefore, when people can obtain copies of their data and control their access in a data account this will generate a new parallel data ecosystem in much the same way that today’s economy depends on individuals’ control over their own financial assets.

Europe is well positioned to take a lead in this democratisation of the personal data economy. The model of non-profit personal data cooperatives (e.g., in which people possess absolute control over who accesses which part of their data, has the potential to provide a new trust-promoting systems that returns benefits to the individual and society rather than to the shareholders of multinational companies.

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